At an event in Paris to mark 100 days until the start of Euro 2016, Martin O’Neill expressed his hope that Shay Given would be fit enough for selection for the tournament.
Despite being rated as Ireland’s best ever goalkeeper, age and injuries have resulted in a marked decline of his sharpness, quickness and overall command of his goal and here are five reasons why Shay Given shouldn’t be included in the final squad.
In the home qualifier against Scotland, Given was rooted to the ground as Shaun Maloney’s deflected shot ended in the back of the net.
The deflection, in fact, should have helped the goalkeeper, but he was unable to react. He didn’t necessarily need to save the shot to prove me wrong, but his inability to react to the danger is a worry.
This is not an isolated situation for Given. Just watch his failure to react and adjust his body as Mesut Özil side-foots a Thomas Müller cross in the match against Germany.
Given has always struggled with his kicking, and over the past couple of seasons injuries, including a recurring groin complaint, have continued to hinder this aspect of his game.
For Ireland to succeed in playing a composed, possession-based style of play, it is vital that the team has a goalkeeper that is comfortable with the ball.
His kicking is also a danger to the defence – look below to see his clearance against Fulham in the League Cup.
One of the most impressive aspects of Darren Randolph’s performances have been how comfortable he is with the ball at his feet and the power in his kicking.
Given would not have been able to produce such an accurate and powerful kick to provide the assist for Shane Long’s winner against Germany.
3. Lack of match sharpness
Given retired from international football after a disastrous Euro 2012, both for him personally and the team overall.
Retirement, Given was hoping, would prolong his club career. However, since the tournament in 2012, he has only played five Premier League matches.
A lack of playing time with Aston Villa coincided with Given’s decision to return to the Irish team.
He moved to Stoke City in the summer, having turned down the opportunity to move to Middlesbrough, where he played 16 matches while on-loan in the 2013-14 season.
Given cited the lure of the Premier League rather than the guarantee of starting the season as Middlesbrough’s first-choice as the reason for the move to the Potters.
So far this season he has made only two League Cup appearances for Stoke, and has yet to play a minute in the Premier League.
Injuries and age have led to a loss of agility from Given. Standing at just 6ft, he is considered a relatively small goalkeeper. In the past, he made up for a lack of inches with a capacity to be quick, sharp and swift in the box. Now there is a sluggishness and, at times, a clumsiness to his game.
Watch the clip below which illustrates his failure to move his body to save a straightforward Per Mertesacker header in the FA Cup final.
We were beginning to see signs of this weakness back in Euro 2012 in the opening match against Croatia.
5. Injury record
Since 2012, Given has suffered injuries to his groin, knee, pelvis and hamstring which puts a question mark on his overall fitness. Clearly, he is not the player he once was and this is has been evident in recent performances.
Given will be 40-years old by the time the tournament starts and although he has a wealth of experience, this shouldn’t be a decisive factor when deciding if he goes to France.
In the squad picked to play Bosnia, ten players had over 30 caps, and five with over 50 caps, so a lack of experience is not an issue.
If you believe his experience alone is worth a place in the squad then perhaps a coaching role with goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh may be more beneficial to the team.
My three goalkeepers to go to Euro 2016: